vacation in Aspen for less than $50 per day

The recap of Chino summer adventures continues. Since Alison has already shared some about our time there, I’m going to try to come at this from a different angle.

There is so much that I appreciate about camping vacations. The cool clean mountain air. Drinking in the beauty of our surroundings. Being outside. Time with people I care about. Fires (when they haven’t been banned). Quiet. Good food. Hiking. Morning coffee. But there is a benefit to camping that sometimes doesn’t get near the recognition it should…

It’s cheap.

Aspen is possibly the most pretentious (and expensive) resort town in Colorado. If you need to be reminded of this, let me recommend seeing the time-honored classic, Dumb and Dumber. Most of Aspen’s vacationers are burning money in the streets and are proud of it. I haven’t a clue what four days of room and board for six people in Aspen would cost, but my guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000.

Contrast that with the $21 a night scenic campground located 6 miles outside of town. It was far enough from town to make you feel like you were really away from it all, but close enough for daily forays into town to shop for groceries, use the internet, play on the playground, visit the library, and people watch. And did I mention… it was $21 a night.

Likewise on the food. Saving so much money on accommodations easily could have justified eating a couple meals in town, but  we didn’t.  And we really didn’t have much desire to. We were usually on the go around lunchtime and so picnic fare just seemed to make sense. Plus, our breakfasts and dinners back at camp were meals fit for royalty. I can’t imagine that food cost us more than $15-20 per day for our family.

While there are any number of places to part with your hard earned dollars in Aspen, there are only three establishments that will repeatedly suck us in.

1) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory // This isn’t true only in Aspen. Any mountain town that has one (and they all seem to have one) is sure to get another $10-15 from us. Worth every penny.

2) Ute Mountaineer // This particular store caters to an addiction of mine that I am neither proud of – nor ashamed of.

3) The Thrift Shop of Aspen // The name itself seems like a oxymoron. And yet, there truly are bargains to be had in this funny little store.

So there it is. A four day stay in Aspen that ends up costing a couple Benjamins. Hard to believe… but true.

Next stop – Moab, Utah.


I’m talkin’ bout a little place called…


During our Colorado tour, we got to spend several days in this pretentious (yet lovely) mountain town.  I’ve been to Aspen four times now, and every trip has left a lasting impression.  My first time was nearly twenty years ago during a winter trip for a couple days of skiing.  It happened to be Gay Pride Week which meant that my traveling companion and I sat as far apart as a ski lift chair will allow.

Time two was with half a dozen or so would be mountain climbers.  The trip was in mid-September which apparently is a fairly unpredictable time as far as weather is concerned.  I can’t do justice to the catastrophe that followed, so if you are curious ask my friend Josh all about it.

My third time there was another climbing trip.  This time with a far more positive outcome.  There were four of us, and we tackled some of the most challenging 14er climbs Colorado has to offer.

This latest trip there was far more laid back, but equally enjoyable.  Here are the photos to prove it.

Aspen is notoriously expensive, but with a little meal planning and some the help of Difficult Campground, it can be done on the cheap.